Aspar Mahindra rider Pecco Bagnaia took a third podium finish in the sixth race of the 2016 season, finishing only seven hundredths of a second from a first race win after 20 breath-taking laps in today’s thrilling Italian GP.
Held at the magnificent Mugello circuit in a scenic mountainous setting outside Florence, the race was a fiercely close battle. Every lap looked like the first, as a pack of 20 or more riders ran into the first corner four or five abreast.
Second Aspar Mahindra rider Jorge Martin was part of the pack, running as high as eighth place several times, but crossing the line 14th. He was still just two seconds away from the winner in the thick of the brawl: the first 21 finishers were within five seconds of winner Brad Binder (KTM).
Speaking about his podium finish, Pecco Bagnaia said, “A good weekend for me and the team – I think my best in the World Championship so far. We’ve been consistently in the top five, and finishing third at Mugello is amazing. I pushed to the limit in the last lap to try to close the gap to Brad, and maybe if Quartararo had been further away from me I could have fought for the win. But third is a good result, and I am happy with my third podium this year. It was an amazingly close race, and you could go from first to eighth in one lap – which is not easy. It’s difficult to stay calm with bikes all around you. I tried to stay at the head of the group on every lap, but I went wide at the first corner with a few laps to go. I managed to go fast, overtake a bunch of riders, and finish on the podium. Hopefully we can continue with the work we’ve been doing here and will do at tomorrow’s test, and continue to fight at the front.”
The circuit’s long finishing straight meant that slip streaming was crucial. Robbed of a podium last year by three thousandths of a second, Bagnaia played his cards better this time to cross the line three hundredths of a second behind second-place Fabio Di Giannantonio and six thousandths of a second ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (both Honda). Fifth-placed Fabio Quartararo (KTM) was another two thousandths of a second behind.
The ever-improving Mahindra MGP30 racer, made by the only Indian constructor in the World Championship, is at its strongest at circuits where roadholding and handling are more important than acceleration and top speed.
The next race, in two weeks, is at a similarly fast circuit in Catalunya, where high-speed changes of direction should again play into the hands of the MGP3O riders.